Written by John Cole, Area Manager South Auckland at BCITO
Thursday 24th May dawned. The start of Session Four - crisp, but not too cold. Entered the NZTE Majestic Centre Building, pushed level 15 in the lift. Doors opened and we were greeted with a magnificent view of the Wellington vista and then the warmth of the 2018 NZ Leadership Programme cohort.
We have moved from participants to whanau. We have got over the veneer of our egos and we are starting to see each other for the rich human beings we are. One big heart, as if we haven’t seen each other for ages, catching up on everything, finding out about our families, what we’ve been doing and not doing.
Before our first guest, Louise Marra centred us. Letting go of the outside world and bringing us into the Now. Such an important step as we humans are not commodities that can be plonked down and turned on and off like a TV set. We have baggage and this has to be checked in before taking a trip.
Enter our first guest the Right Honourable James (Jim) Bolger – Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1990 to 1997. Jim proposed a new ‘measuring stick’ for the prosperity of New Zealand. GDP is outdated and no longer reflects the progress of a progressive country. Jim encouraged us to think of a new set of values. Values that seek to treat our environment well and move away from values that have a single focus on wealth. In today’s world of work, Jim challenged us as leaders to “call” for change and to challenge the status quo – otherwise, we will just be getting more of what we already have.
When you see in the schedule the two words – ‘Leadership Process’, you know you are in for a ride. Get your elastic bands out because you are off to Louise’s brain gym and you are going to be stretched. Today’s stretch was Values. What are our values? Have we chosen them, or have we adopted them? Two pieces of gym equipment were used to form the inquiry. One was Individuation, i.e. who would I be? The second is Epistemology – How do I know what I know? A challenging session – I just loved it. Triads were involved – such a valuable tool to get honest feedback from your fellow colleagues about who we are actually ‘BE’ing, versus who our ego’s think we should be.
Day two gave us a ‘Café Style’ panel delivered by Berlinda Chin from the State Services Commission, Peter Chrisp – CEO New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Teresa Tepania-Ashton - CEO at Maori Women's Development Inc. Each participant was afforded 10 minutes to give us an insight into their world followed by breakout groups where we were able to ask questions. A fantastic session to really get inside their heads and discover new ways of thinking around governance in the context of awakened leadership and the future of work.
Without a team, a leader is nothing. Leading a team is a real art and leading a team in harmony is the ultimate. What better way to experience harmony than through a creative activity using your whole body! We all met at a community centre and for the next hour surprised ourselves at the ability to learn, with a little guidance, a new skill.. It lifted our spirits to a higher plane and reminded us we need to make time to play.
Day three. We all met at the New Zealand Drama School – Toi Whakaari. Christian Penny the Director and Leadership Alumnus 2009 ran the session.
In theatre, the actors have such an engaging role. If they are not fully engaged in the role the audience will pick it up and if they are overacting, they too will pick this up and the results will be reflected in the lack of ticket sales. Therefore, the fine line to discover is being authentic to yourself and the role. Get it right and you have a 10 year run on Broadway, get it wrong and you have cold empty seats.
So too with leadership. If one is not authentic, those you are leading pick it up and it will be a continuous struggle. Get it right and the synergy emanating from a leader-inspired group is unstoppable.
Christian gave us an insight into this valuable concept by getting us to participate in two-man musical chairs. The task – be authentically engaged with your partner to lure them away from the chair, so that when the music stops, you win by getting to the seat first. This requires putting all self-consciousness aside and BE’ing there for the other person. A valuable lesson in Leadership. Be authentic with your people, be generous for them to grow and like a successful show on Broadway, you will have a long run.
Every session provides one more piece to the Leadership puzzle. Roll on session five in Palmerston North.